TILTING AT THE “WINDMILLS OF THE MIND”
“Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.” The statement was famously said by the Belgian surrealist named Rene Magritte, whose influence persists into this century, while the works of the better known, more media savvy, Salvador Dali have been reduced to parody and kitsch. The reason for Magritte’s enduring popularity resides in the fact that his works continue to resonate with modern man, ascending to multiple interpretations, even influencing the Conceptualists with his interplay of verbal and visual conundrums, while continuing to plumb the depths of the subconscious.
Magritte’s most iconic image is actually a self-portrait: the bowler-hatted gentleman in a black overcoat, his face obscured by a hovering green apple. Of this work, intriguingly titled “The Son of Man,” Magritte remarked: “Everything we see hides another things, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.”
Currently on view at Galerie Anna is “Windmills of the Mind”, a group exhibition by Gary Joseph Joquico, Grae Martin Joquico, and paterfamilias Gerry Joquico. Magritte himself would have been the ideal guest invited (in spirit, of course) to cut the ceremonial ribbon, for his influence is admirably pervasive in the works of the Joquicos.
The bowler-hatted man appears in Gary Joseph’s works titled “Probe and Dawdle,” where he is depicted with a magnifying glass trained at the gallery visitor, while in “Missing Link,” he stands and scans the skies through a telescope, with his alter-ego, or Other Self, seated on a stool, his face entirely obscured by a dunce cap- box dumped on his head.
In Jerry Joquico’s works, we can observe Magritte’s Gentleman, out of the glare of his role as an icon, stripped of his theatrical mask and invested with a personal life. In “Pundido,” the title refers to the overhead bulb where the man and his woman are together in a bathtub. In “Enchantment” the same couple share a quiet but emotionally charged moment of domestic bliss.
In paintings that deviate from Magritte’s character, the Joquicos explore other scenarios and narratives, sustaining the surrealist strain attuned to contemporary reality: a modiste’s shop populated by life-like but bloodless mannequins (World of Clones), a deathly-pale maiden deprived of sunlight (Etiolation), pairs of hands seemingly closing in to strangle a helpless woman (Wheel of Fortune), and the same maiden with a rose sprouting from her mouth and an egg-nest emerging from her chest (Sleeper Foal).
Through the titles which Gerry Joquico imposed on his works, he hints at mysteries hidden from plain sight while the observer is much too engrossed by the startling image, its sensuous execution, and the curious blend of fantasy, menace and theatricality, all dominated by a grey and somber mood.
Being the abstractionist in the family, Grae Martin Joquico was faced with the challenge of conveying the same mysterious mood in a non-representational manner. His response is centered on greying and atmospheric abstract landscapes, where the skies are caught in a maelstrom of swirling impastoed pigments, conducted by the artist and set to the music of the spheres; thus the titles Preludes in the Skies, Songs After The Storm, and Serenade to Luna.
The title of the Joquicos’ show must perforce allude to the well-known Academy award-winning song, but Magritte will also remind us of the knight Don Quixote tilting at the windmills, thinking they were giants, and that it was Surrealism that gave permission to express mankind’s deepest fears and anxieties, which humankind continues to slay.
Galerie Anna is at the 4/L, The Artwalk, Bldg. A, SM Megamall, EDSA, Mandaluyong City. For inquiries, call cel nos: 0936-713-9212 and 0909-591-8495.